Sunday, November 1

Favorite Cookies: An Observation

We all know it, so there’s no use in denying it: Flirting, Dating, Courting – whatever you want to call it – it’s a cruel, cruel game that we all have to play in order to get to the good (or rather, better) stuff – Marriage, Family, Eternal Progression, Perfection and Exaltation, yadda, yadda, yadda.

As I’ve mentioned before, playing this game is a fine art. It takes courage. It takes determination. It takes a willingness to endure many, many hours of awkward and uncomfortable young single adult activities and dances. It takes skills – both of the personal and social variety. It takes a working knowledge of how to interact with the opposite gender – how to approach them, and then how to isolate a desired target for a little more one-on-one face time. It also requires a sincere, honest and concentrated effort from both the guy and the girl. It is to this last point – a sincere, honest and concentrated effort from both parties – that I would like to address my thoughts. And more specifically, to the young men in the audience who seem to have forgotten that they have a role to play, too, in this little dance we call dating…

I recently overheard a comment made by a guy friend who was holding court with a gaggle of female admirers. The girls clearly enjoyed his presence, and he clearly enjoyed the attention. Not a bad thing, by any means – it’s all part of the game = girls and guys interacting with each other, laughing and talking together.

His comment, however, was as follows:
“So my favorite cookies are [X]. You can make them for me anytime.”

The thoughts running through my head at the time:
Seriously? I can make you your favorite cookies anytime? And bring them to you? Really?! I get to do all the work while you sit there and do nothing more than enjoy the fruits of my hard labor? I get to cook and bake for you and feed you and bring you treats and shower you with attention? Really? I can do that for you?! And what do I get in return? Nothing?! Yippee!! Sign me up for that relationship!!

Note the heavy sarcasm? Good. We’re all on the same page.

I’m not going to delve into the Dating vs. Hanging Out issue. I’m pretty sure you can guess my thoughts on that one.

What I do want to discuss though, is this: Remember the time, circa Jane Austen (and don’t you dare roll your eyes at me – of course I’m going to invoke her name when talking about dating and courting), when the young ladies were expected to be ladies: demure, accomplished, pleasant, virtuous, maybe a little coy and mysterious, but never overly flirtatious or suggestive, never scandalous or suspected of having a ruined reputation (and yes, I’m channeling Pride and Prejudice right now). The young men were expected to be men: agreeable, handsome, intelligent, strong, kind, able to provide for a wife and family. The young lady stayed at home, perfecting her needlework and practicing the pianoforte, while it was the duty of the young man to come calling on the lady so that they might get to know one another better, engage in lively conversations, attend dances together, exchange tokens of their affection… and of course they fall in love and since we’ve all either read the book or seen the movie, we know the happy ending is inevitable.

Back to my point! In the above scenario, the impetus to begin a relationship and a subsequent courtship is on the man. By virtue of the social conventions of the day, it would be distasteful for a young lady to call upon a gentleman suitor without a proper invitation or prior arrangement. I am not suggesting that we adopt the social standards and ideologies of the 1800s, but there is a lesson to be learned here.

Somehow, in the past several decades, it seems that the bulk of the responsibility to begin a relationship and a subsequent courtship has been removed from the shoulders of the men and given to the women. The guys just seem to sit there and wait for the girls to come to them. And the girls fight each other whitened-tooth and manicured-nail for the good ones. We are trying so hard to impress you guys, trying so hard to be noticed by anyone of real quality. We offer to make dinner for you. We awkwardly flirt with you. We accept last-minute requests on Friday night to come over and watch a movie (aka “hang out”), not realizing that the only reason you called us was because you were bored and wanted to be entertained and had already called three other girls and we just happened to be the next one down on the list. We scheme and strategize and plan, and yes, obsess and maybe sometimes even stalk, all so that we can better our chance of having you notice us, or sit next to us, or finally get the hint that we would like it if you would condescend to ask us out on a date.

And the sad thing is, it seems that the guys have come to expect this. They are content to sit there and make the girls come to them. And once they've flirted shamelessly with every breathing girl in the room, convincing half of them that he is interested, he might decide to actually chose the one who is most to his liking. Or he might not choose any at all. As evidenced by my friend’s comment – “My favorite cookies are [X]. You can make them for me anytime.” This comment tells me that the guy expects you, the girl, to show him special attention, that he will gladly accept your advances (in the form of food or your pleasant company or otherwise), but is there any guarantee that he will reciprocate the attention and the effort?

Guys – How about instead of YOU telling the girl what YOUR favorite cookies are and letting her know that she can make them for YOU anytime, you ask the GIRL what HER favorite cookies are and let HER know that you will make them for HER anytime. See the difference? See how that changes the dynamics of the relationship?

Don’t know how to make cookies? EVEN BETTER. Suggest that you make them TOGETHER.

But don’t get fixated on just cookies. There are many other food groups out there that we girls like to prepare and consume.

I guess this isn’t so much an observation as it is a plea to all single males to MAN UP. Or, since I’m a Texan, COWBOY UP. Don’t just sit there and wait for the girls to come to you. Don’t expect the girls to fawn over you and offer to feed you. Take the initiative and offer to feed the girl. Don’t expect that we will jump at the chance to hang out with you at the last minute. Spend a little time and effort and actually have a plan when you call a girl and ask her out. (And it should go without saying, but for those who are a little slow on the uptake, I’ll say it anyway: PICK THE GIRL UP FROM HER HOUSE.)

Will every adventure in dating be successful? Of course not. So why go through the effort, you may ask? Because it’s worth it. It’s worth it to have fun with another person and have that human interaction. It’s worth it to get to know someone and what they have to offer. It’s worth it to show someone that you respect them enough to be kind and agreeable and thoughtful and intelligent. It’s worth it because one of those adventures will result in the real thing.

And, guys, I know that if you make the sincere, honest and concentrated effort to begin a relationship, the girl, if it’s right, will reciprocate ten-fold. I truly believe that inside every girl is the Perfect Girlfriend, just waiting to come out when she meets the Perfect Boyfriend. And she will be more than willing to make him his favorite cookies anytime.

And what are my favorite cookies, you might ask? Cowboy up and find out...